Wow, another one. Earlier this year I wrote a review for an unsigned Columbian band named TERRA SUR who impressed me beyond expectation, and when I saw I had received another Progressive Metal band from South America, my ears started tingling. Argentina’s SACRUM come at us with their debut release entitled “Congnition”, and I can say that, once again, I am not disappointed. The first thing I do when starting a review is to browse to the groups (official) home page to see firstly, who they are and secondly to collect some background information on the band and their previous album releases, if any. If I can give a tip for bands out there, if you do have a homepage, it is important that you use it as a tool to market yourself to potential fans and (if unsigned) potential record labels. SACRUM has done a fantastic job of this by presenting a functional and well-designed website with a cinema-like trailer to promote themselves and the release of the album, an exercise that creates a very good impression of the band outside their music.
Although a good website and effective marketing can create a good impression of a band, in the end what is most important is the music, which in this case sits squarely in the Progressive Metal genre, a genre where there is no room for squares. The driving force behind Progressive Metal is experimentation (and progression), a fact that many of the newer bands seem to have forgotten, and as absurd as it might sound, the genre has grown much more formulated in the last number of years. SACRUM seems to have also realized this and have set out to create something that is at the same time familiar, but holds your attention by covering a lot of musical ground throughout.
Anyone out there who knows DREAM THEATER’S music intimately, knows that their style has evolved a lot through the twenty years of their existence, in the middle era of the band, the music was very soulful, the epitome of which would probably be the “Metropolis Pt. 2” album. After the release of that epic, their music started to have more of a mechanical aura around it but, without comparing that album to this, SACRUM reminds me of that earlier era of the DREAM THEATER legend. They play with the same kind of flair DREAM THEATER displayed back then and what is even better is they seem to have a considerable amount of talent - a very good sign for a band showing a love of experimentation. Inevitably, SACRUM will be likened to DT, as I have just done, but there is nothing here that DT have already explicitly done before them and even though the influence is clear, the comparison is not altogether accurate. SACRUM also has a very strong Prog Rock spirit that they are not afraid to show off, with moments of ethereal calm and memories of old mixing together with the much heavier approach of bands like DREAM THEATER, SYMPHONY X, PAGAN’S MIND etc. Everything works together very effectively with the heavy riffing trading off with intricate solos, and the tight drumming and bass lay a solid groundwork for what is a solid piece of Progressive Metal. Except for adding some atmospheric effects, the keyboards are never much in the spotlight, yet it is always unmistakably present and mostly responsible for the above-mentioned flair, especially in comparison to what Jordan Rudess added to DT.
One point of contention on this album might be the vocals, as it is at times a bit high pitched and wavering, but if you are put off by this at first listen, stick with it because Talo Silveyra’s voice grows with the progression of the album and delivers a more than convincing performance. Besides that, I cannot find much wrong here and with the vocals changing change into some Extreme growling on the title track, and the world class shredding on the track thereafter, there certainly is something here that will please most Metal fans. Hearing unsigned bands like SACRUM gives me a lot of hope for Metal, as it shows how much talent there still is to be unearthed around the world, and while listening to this album I cannot help but wonder how it is that a band with such obvious quality has not been picked up by a big label. However, if there is any justice in this world (which there certainly is not in the music industry), that will change soon and with them supporting the mighty DREAM THEATER in concert, that is bound to happen.
(Online March 23, 2008)